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Gulf of Aden: More drowned by smugglers, others die of asphyxia and dehydration

Briefing notes

Gulf of Aden: More drowned by smugglers, others die of asphyxia and dehydration

24 April 2007

The dangerous voyage across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia to Yemen claimed a further 18 lives on 20 April, adding to the horrific death toll at the hands of ruthless smugglers. Eyewitnesses and survivors from two boats which made the voyage told our staff in Yemen that at least 18 people died on the trip - eight people were thrown overboard in high seas and 10 more died due to asphyxia and dehydration.

The latest incidents happened during the voyage of a smuggling boat and a transport vessel used to carry fish and cattle. One of the boats arrived at Buroom fishing port in Yemen carrying 140 passengers including 60 Somalis and 80 Ethiopians. The other boat arrived 25 km west of Mukalla city in the governorate of Hadramaut carrying 10 Somalis.

In all, the two boats carried a total of 150 people, including 80 Ethiopians and 70 Somalis. Survivors reported they paid smugglers US$100 to cross the Gulf of Aden. The Yemeni authorities have taken 35 Ethiopians into custody. The Somalis, recognised by the Yemenis as refugees, were provided with food and water before being taken to UNHCR's Mayfa reception centre.

Last year, some 26,000 people made the perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden and at least 330 died. Another 300 were reported missing, believed dead. Since the start of this year, more than 5,600 people have landed on the Yemeni coast and at least 200 people have died. Many remain missing.